Tillie & Coco

two ladies, two bicycles, two hemispheres

Category: Cycling attire

“Winter” Cycling in Corning

by Tillie

Hi Coco,

The shipping container arrived last week and I’m back on the bike! The only casualty of the move was the cheap retro light I purchased back in London, which fell off on my first Corning cycle ride. Great. I’ll have to get a better bracket sorted when the local bike shop opens again in March.

To my surprise, winter in Corning has (so far) been remarkably mild. There has been no snow for over a week, and temperatures well above zero, so I have been cycling a few times now on short errands around town. It’s still ear freeze weather, but all in all it’s perfect for short trips. I’m trying to be less shy about posting cycling outfits, so here is my latest attempt at looking visible and staying warm. So far drivers have been very considerate – giving me a wide berth and slowing down, though some have been shy to overtake me. Yesterday three trucks waited for me to do a left turn! How kind. I hope they weren’t spluttering “stupid cyclist” under their breath or something.

Cycling parking in Corning is a bit lacking, but so far I’ve managed to lock my bike to a bin (outside the coffee shop) and a handrail (outside the post office). The local supermarket, Wegman’s, has a parking lot the size of a football field, which contrasts strongly with the pair of bike stands that aren’t attached to the ground in any way, but at least they make bike stealing all the more inconvenient. I’m thinking about getting a lighter lock and some sort of chain, because lugging my Kryptonite around is probably a bit overkill.

Happily, I’m not the only cyclist in Corning – every time I go outside I see someone on a bike. It’s very heartening. There is also a mountain bike leaning on a tree outside my flat, which has yet to be stolen, which I take as a good sign.

Parking at the flat. Those stairs are deceptively steep!

Sunlight much? That's our car in the background, which we are forced to own due to total lack of public transport.

A perfect day for cycling, no? That white tower is a Corning landmark called the Tube Draw Tower, built in 1912. It was used to make thermometers! The picture on the side is a glassblower.

Creative parking at the Post Office

Corning's Post Office. It's fantastic inside! I almost want to rent a post office box just to hang out there more often.


Ride To Work Day Sydney

by Alacoque

Dear Tillie,

today was Ride To Work Day and to celebrate the City of Sydney Council put on a free breakfast for folks who commute to the city by bike. I rolled up on my retro Electra and locked up with the hundreds of other bikes.

My Electra kinda stands out from the sporty pack

I was surprised by the huge turnout. I guess when cyclists whizz by one by one you don’t really get a sense of just how many there are. Unlike cars which sit still in traffic jams, allowing you to count them as you ride by. Unfortunately it was a lycra heavy event, which in itself is ok, but I was made to feel a bit uncomfortable and was asked (felt like interrogated) if I had in fact ridden when I was lined up for my free hot chocolate. It put a bit of a dampener on the event for me. The lovely Sarah Wilson got up on stage at one point and pointed out that yes, she had ridden here despite being gorgeously kitted out and sans lycra. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

The breakfast included coffee, pastries, bananas(!), and juice. There were also physiotherapists available to check your posture on your bike, and bike mechanics offering free tune ups. I loved the band! What a great start to the morning!

The rest of the day was also beautiful. I couldn’t help but share this gorgeous plant I snapped a photo of at lunch. Spring is well and truly here!

Love Coco xx

To market, to market!

by Alacoque

Dear Tillie,

I received some good news late this morning and decided to celebrate by surrendering to my cravings and heading to the fish markets for lunch. The ride down was surprisingly busy with traffic, I’m not sure why considering the time of day, but I took advantage of the empty park footpath when things got a little too hairy. (Isn’t it sad that our beautiful parks are empty in Spring school holidays yet the roads are full?)

My fish and chips were lovely and I enjoyed them despite the disapproving stares of other women (the constant intrusive opinions of others when you’re pregnant never ceases to amaze me, don’t worry I know which fish I can and can’t eat while pregnant!). The weather was quite warm today and the clouds and sun toyed with each other all morning. As soon as I finished lunch the sun won out making for a very pleasant ride to the Post Office and home again.

I thought I give you a photo update on the belly situation. It’s really out there now! I’m 31 weeks pregnant and though I still love riding I am definitely slowing down. Having said that I’m a hell of a lot faster on the bike than when I waddle anywhere!

Being Spring I should probably give the poor old bike a spring clean. Those flowers are looking a bit sad.

Love Coco xx

Tweed Run 2011: ‘What a lovely world it is!’

by tillieandcoco

What a lovely world it is!
-Tweed Run participant

Dear Coco,

And so it was, for the greater part of Saturday 9th April in central London, for everyone on the 3rd Annual Tweed Run. The fun started early when on my way to ‘the shadow of St Paul’s’ I saw numerous dapper chaps and a dashing dame with a beautiful cape cycle past. The lovely cape lady called out “good morning!” The city warmed up quickly, the Thames glistened, the spokes flickered, and for a few short hours cycling utopia took hold of the streets. Cars were held back at intersections by smiling ladies and gents with M for Marshall wrapped around their arms in, of course, tweed. Tally ho!

As the ride started forth from St Paul’s to Blackfriars Bridge, a Marshall grunted “no more than 5 miles per hour!” True enough, 10.5 miles at such a leisurely pace was perfectly doable, despite my questionable fitness. (I barely broke a sweat until my cycle home through the city, when suddenly bereft of my tweed-clad mob I reverted to full tilt.)

Just over halfway through the ride we stopped for a tea break at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the oldest public square in London, opposite Sir John Soane’s Museum. Real leaf tea (!) for 500-odd people was served from proper pots in mismatching vintage cups and saucers. The queue was so long that volunteers walked the length of the line politely offering platters of cucumber sandwiches and Cajun spiced nuts, and everyone joked about how the British love a good queue, ho ho.

Whilst waiting in line for tea I made friends with a lovely couple who own a garden centre near Turnham Green station. Did you know you should always pick basil from the base of the stem, and only water it when it starts to wilt? At other stages in the ride I met Johnny, who has a daughter called Tilly and runs a cinema/cafe/venue called ‘Time for Tea’ which I haven’t been to yet but am only too happy to plug based on the card; and Arthur from Toronto who was travelling in Europe on business which happened to coincide with the Tweed Run. He does not cycle in winter in Toronto, but does so throughout the rest of the year. I also met Alistair who is half Welsh (shh) and cycles everywhere, including to meetings. He was slightly embarrassed by his non-vintage bike, but I have to say the presence of contemporary bicycles really made the day; as did the combination of people dressed like the early 20th Century texting away on their iPhones.

On my way home I had a short conversation at the traffic lights with a dapper chap who had enjoyed the day very much, and said “it’s just very silly, really”. I suppose this is true; but I also hope the Tweed Run is nevertheless still a protest – albeit a very polite one – against the continuing primacy of cars. I can’t tell you what a treat it was to cycle through the streets of London without the constant rumble of car engines. A notable quote of the day was “I’ve never enjoyed Old Street Roundabout before!” followed shortly by “What? No near-death experience?”So Tally ho to more Tweed Runs and more dressed-up cyclists in general. I hope Sydney follows (tweed) suit!

Love Tillie

Tweed Run 2011 Outfit: a series of flukes

by tillieandcoco

Hi Coco!

As you know, I somehow fluked my way onto the Tweed Run 2011, which sold out in 5 minutes and left many people who couldn’t register despite logging on at midday, very upset.*

* The web person apparently opened the registration 5 minutes early in case the website crashed. Next year they’ll do a lottery to avoid the upset comments on their Facebook page. Fair enough so.

I am rider number 422. What a nice even number! I saw these gloves in Topshop before I went away to San Fran and thought “perfect for Tweed Run outfit, I should probably buy those right now!” But, having already spent most of my money on things for the holiday, I made my usual “I’ll definitely come back for those at some indeterminate time in the future” promise – only to discover of course that they were no longer current stock by the time I got back. On Thursday I went to Topshop to return a faulty umbrella (bought for the rain I knew to expect in San Francisco) and flukishly found the gloves on sale for half the price, which did make me glad after all for the inferior quality brolly.

Yesterday I collected my rider pack from Covent Garden, and was delighted to finally discover the route (which I can’t advertise before the fact, secret society style!) The Official Handbook says, “Now look here, proper attire is expected”; proper attire being “tweed suits, plus fours, bowties, cycling capes and jaunty flat caps”. I don’t own plus fours and can’t see myself finding any by next Saturday, so I’m going for a colour scheme of brown and dusky pink as compensation for my less than tweedtastic outfit. I should mention that I do have a choice of tweed jackets from a whim of taste a few years ago, but no doubt I’ll only be able to wear whichever one I decide on for 5 minutes before overheating. I went into Rokit yesterday looking for a scarf to suit said scheme, and fluked again with these trousers suitable for cycling that actually fit me! Awesome!

The only thing missing now is a suitable shirt. I think I’ve run out of flukes now, so I guess I’ll have to work at this one. Wish me luck for making it the whole 10.5 miles!

Tillie x